Basics of Export Control Compliance

Basics of Export Control Compliance 480x320 The Basics
The Basics
What Are Export Controls?

It is the policy of the University of Miami to comply with all U.S. export control laws and regulations, and to develop and maintain an export control compliance program to enable UM employees, visiting scientists, postdoctoral fellows, students and other persons retained by or working at or for UM to conduct their University business in accordance with these laws and regulations. No UM associate may engage in any activity that is prohibited by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, or any other government agency with export governance. No University personnel may transfer any controlled item, including technology and technical data, without approved documentation from the appropriate governing agency.

The University’s current Export Control Policy can be found at the Export Control Compliance Policies & Forms page.

How Is Something Exported?

When we think of exporting, we tend to envision a parcel being sent overseas. However, exporting can occur through just about any means such as telephone calls, email, lab tours, meetings, computer data, social media, visual inspection, oral exchanges, screen shots, auditory, and shared drives. This is why it is important to be conscious of your environment and those who are in it. One of the biggest concerns with respect to export controls, especially at the University, is “deemed export” violations. These occur when an item, technology, or even source code is released (or exported) to a foreign person within the United States. In a university setting, it is important that items such as unpublished research findings, funds, computers, lasers, and electronics are not released to a foreign person without the proper license or authorizing documentation in place first.

Who Is A Foreign Person?

Any natural person who is not a lawful permanent resident of the United States, citizen of the United States, or any other protected individual as defined by 8 U.S.C. 1324b(a)(3). It also means any corporation, business association, partnership, trust, society or any other entity or group that is not incorporated in the United States or organized to do business in the United States, as well as international organizations, foreign governments and any agency or subdivision of a foreign government (e.g., diplomatic mission). “Foreign person” is synonymous with “foreign national,” as used in the EAR, and “foreign person” as used in the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (22 CFR 120.16). This definition does not apply to part 760 of the EAR (Restrictive Trade Practices or Boycotts).

What University Activities Are Affected By Export Controls?

Do you travel overseas on University business, whether for a conference, meeting, or to conduct field work? Do you collaborate with foreign persons, whether in the U.S. or abroad? Do you conduct tours or visits of research facilities? Do you work on sponsored research, even as a subcontractor, with people or entities from a foreign country? Have you provided consulting services internationally?

All these activities are examples of some of the normal, everyday business functions that occur at the University which are also subject to export controls.

There is a variety of scientific equipment at the University that is being used and developed. However, when designing such equipment, research needs to go into the components being used for these devices. If a component that is military-grade is used, the entire device as well as the project may become controlled in the strictest way. Equipment purchased from a vendor needs to be researched to ensure that there are no export controls that may require the need for a license. This information is obtained when an item is being procured through the University purchasing system;however, it is standard and acceptable to ask for the Export Control Classification Number (ECCN), or United States Monitoring List (USML) from the vendor when obtaining a quote in order to discern if there are any export control risks prior to purchasing the item. The manufacturer/vendor of the item should also provide the Schedule B/HTS number.

Examples of Controlled Items
Advanced computer, microelectronics and telecommunications High Performance Computers
Advanced avionics and navigation, including spaced-related technologies and protoypes Information security and encryption
Applied Physics – e.g. lasers and directed energy systems Marine Technologies
Bioreactor systems Nanotechnology
Biotech and Biomed Engineering Sensors, sensor technology, imaging
Chemicals (including academic medical center and health sciences research) Sophisticated machine tool technologies and bearings
Chemical Agents(e.g. Lyssa virus, Chlamydia psittaci, HT-2 toxin, Bartonella Quintana) Software for process control that is specifically configured to control or initiate production of chemicals that are controlled
Wouldn’t the Fundamental Research Exclusion (FRE) Apply?

Not necessarily. There are 5 conditions that must be met in order to apply the FRE:

  1. No publication restrictions can be accepted as part of the research agreement, either verbally or in writing.
  2. No foreign person restrictions can be accepted as part of the research agreement, either verbally or in writing.
  3. The scope of the project must constitute either basic or applied research.
  4. The scope of the project does not constitute development.
  5. The research project must be conducted at an accredited institution of higher learning in the United States.
  • Basic research is driven by a scientist’s curiosity or interest in a scientific question. The main motivation is to expand man’s knowledge, not to create or invent something. There is no obvious commercial value to the discoveries that result from basic research.
  • Applied research is designed to solve practical problems of the modern world, rather than to acquire knowledge for knowledge’s sake. One might say that the goal of the applied scientist is to improve the human condition.

Even if all 5 conditions are met, export controls may still apply to actual materials, items, or technologies involved in or resulting from the research.


Why Are Export Controls Important To You?

Export compliance affects everyone in just about everything. Following the events of September 11, 2001, there has been a heightened level of awareness and scrutiny of all export activities with an emphasis on enforcement. Federal agencies are increasingly focused on universities and their compliance with export regulations. Non-compliance with export regulations can lead to substantial and severe criminal and monetary penalties imposed on both the individual who committed the violations as well as the institution. Not to mention spend time in jail, have licenses revoked, and an assortment of other consequences that the government deems appropriate for the crime.

While information is shared on campuses, there is still an ethical and sometimes legal responsibility to protect research. With the extensive amount of primary research done at universities, many researchers hope to gain recognition for innovative research. However, if their research is published by someone else first, they may lose that distinction and credit.Research is often funded by private companies or the government who may need a first-to-market practical application from the research to make it worth their investment. Stealing from the research then could equate to stealing money from the funding organization.

How Do You Know If Something Is Controlled?


Very simply – you are not going to until some investigative work is done. But, you can help mitigate the release of controlled information by remembering these few points:

  • Know the people you are working with. Verify with your supervisor or sponsor who is authorized to receive the sensitive information you are working on. Do not assume.
  • Understand the project and not just the objective. The PIs and others that are part of the management team need to be aware and monitor items that are considered sensitive or export controlled. This includes the equipment being used for the research.Keeping an inventory of items in your lab/work space and establishing a technology control plan will help in managing the project as well as the department.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Do not talk to someone about sensitive information unless it is behind closed doors or through secured resources. SharePoint, Skype, NetMeeting and Cloud computing are not secured electronic sources.
  • Keep a record of the meetings, phone calls, emails, or other activities that take place – especially when the project or information is sensitive or controlled in any way.
  • When in doubt – ASK! Talk with your PI, Supervisor, Manager, or the University's Director of Export Control Compliance if you have a question or concern.

Principal Investigators (PIs), faculty, and staff should not automatically assume that the fundamental research exclusion and/or educational exclusion apply to their project. For guidance about your activity, please review the related information section below. Assistance is also just a phone call or email away:

Related Information
  • Training: ULearn – Live training sessions, including one-on-one training sessions are available to understand basics of export compliance and how they affect University activities are available for registration through ULearn.
  • Training: Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) – CITI is currently a free subscription service providing research ethics education to all members of the research community. The CITI Export Controls course is an extensive series of modules to help the learner understand the major sets of export control regulations, key terms and concepts, and why it is important for researchers in U.S. institutions of higher education to have core knowledge of U.S. export regulations.
External Links to Helpful Resources

Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) – U.S. Dept. of Commerce

The Bureau of Industry and Security has several Decision Tree Tools to assist users.